The African Union bade farewell to Africa’s longest serving diplomat, Ambassador Konjit SineGiorgis of Ethiopia, on Monday (November 16).
Ambassador Konjit who started her diplomatic career a year before the establishment of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on May 25, 1963, was given a colorful farewell party, prepared over several months by the East African Group and the African Union Commission. The Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, the Foreign Minister of Ethiopia, Dr. Tedros, former State Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ethiopia, Ambassador Berhane Gebre-Christos, and many other distinguished Ambassadors and diplomats in Addis Ababa attended the occasion. In the early days of her career, Ambassador Konjit served as an officer in charge of decolonization affairs in the Ethiopian Permanent Mission to the UN in New York. Later, she became Ethiopia’s Permanent Representative to the OAU, and eventually to the AU, and contributed her share in the transformation OAU to the AU. The Dean of the East African Group, Ambassador Mull Katende referred to Ambassador Konjit’s career as “exceptional”; Foreign Minister Dr. Tedros said, “In her close to 53 years of service, she taught us all the pride and dignity of public service.” He added, “We call her our encyclopedia of African Affairs.” Ambassador Berhane, after underlining the instrumental role Ambassador Konjit had played in the transformation of the continent for the past half century, stressed that her commitment to her country and to Africa, and devotion to diplomatic service, was indeed both exceptional and very well known. He said Ambassador Konjit’s meticulous work, her diligence, her readiness to carry out her duty, and the way she provided what he called often “ brutally frank” as well as fully informed advice, were her trademarks. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma called Ambassador Konjit the “African Diplomat par excellence”, added that she loved her country, and her continent. She asked Ambassador Konjit to work with the African Union as a guide and advisor in the future. Ambassador Konjit herself in a moving speech said: “My career has been my life and I sacrificed everything for it. That is why I feel emotional as I retire after all these years of diplomatic service.” She added, “I have to be honest with you, Excellencies and Friends. I really wish I was a bit younger to participate more during this exciting period when both Africa and my country, Ethiopia, are making so much progress.” Ambassador Konjit concluded: “There’s no greater honor than serving one’s country to the fullest. God bless you… Long live Africa.”